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Civil War Ballads: I’m Going to Fight Mit Sigel

This tongue-in-cheek song was written by John F. Poole (1833-1893) to the tune of “The girl I left behind me.” The 97th Regimental String Band recorded a version, “I Goes To Fight Mit Sigel,” for their 1999 album Songs of the Civil War, Vol. 7: Brass Mounted Army. The song is an unflattering portrayal of German-American soldiers in the Union army, written in a mock-German accent from the perspective of a German volunteer. The title is a reference to Union Major General Franz Sigel.

I’ve come shust now to tells you how
I goes mit regimentals;
To schlauch dem voes of Liberty
Like dem old Continentals;
Vot fights mit England long ago
To save de Yankee Eagle,
Un now I gets mine sojer clothes,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Ven I comes from de Deutsche Countree,
I vorks some dimes at baking,
Den I keeps a lager bier saloon,
Un den I goes shoe-making;
But now I was a sojer been
To save de Yankee Eagle;
To schlauch dem tam Secession volks,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

I gets ein tam big rifle guns,
Un puts him to mine shoulder,
Den march so bold. like big jack horse,
Un may been someding bolder;
I goes off mit de volunteers,
To save de Yankee Eagle,
To give dem rebel vellers fits,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

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Civil War Ballads: Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel

Written by John Reuben Thompson in 1863, “Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel” is a satirical song mocking the Union Army’s inability to capture Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, in 1861 and 1862. It was set to the tune of “Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel” by Daniel Decatur Emmett, who also wrote “Dixie”.

Would you like to hear my song? I’m afraid it’s rather long,
Of the famous “On to Richmond” double trouble;
Of the half a dozen trips and half a dozen slips
And the very latest bursting of the bubble.
‘Tis pretty hard to sing and, like a round, round ring,
‘Tis a dreadful knotty puzzle to unravel;
Though all the papers swore, when we touched Virginia’s shore,
That Richmond was a hard road to travel.

Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel.
Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel, I believe.

First McDowell, bold and gay, set forth the shortest way
By Manassas in the pleasant summer weather
But unfortunately ran on a Stonewall (foolish man!)
And had a rocky journey altogether.
And he found it rather hard to ride over Beauregard
And Johnston proved a deuce of a bother.
‘Twas clear beyond a doubt that he didn’t like the route
And a second time would have to try another.

Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Manassas is a hard road to travel.
Manassas gave us fits, and Bull Run made us grieve,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel, I believe.

Next came the Wooly Horse with an overwhelming force
To march down to Richmond by the Valley,
But he couldn’t find the road, and his onward movement showed
His campaigning was a mere shilly-shally.
Then Commissary Banks, with his motley foreign ranks
Kicking up a great noise, fuss, and flurry,
Lost the whole of his supplies and with tears in his eyes
From the Stonewall ran away in a hurry.

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Civil War Ballads: The Fall of Charleston

Eugene T. Johnston wrote this song near the end of the American Civil War to celebrate the capture of Charleston, South Carolina by Union forces in February 1865. Since then, it has been covered many times, including by country and western artist Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991) and Civil War folk singer Bobby Horton.

Oh have you heard the glorious news, is the cry from every mouth,
Charleston is taken, and the rebels put to rout;
And Beauregard the chivalrous, he ran to save his bacon—
When he saw Gen. Sherman’s “Yanks,” and “Charleston is taken!”

With a whack, rowdy-dow,
A hunkey boy is General Sherman,
Whack, rowdy-dow,
Invincible is he!

This South Carolina chivalry, they once did loudly boast;
That the footsteps of a Union man, should ne’er polute their coast.
They’d fight the Yankees two to one, who only fought for booty;—
But when the “udsills” came along it was “Legs do your duty.”

With a whack, rowdy-dow,
Babylon is fallen,
Whack, rowdy-dow,
The end is drawing near!

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Civil War Ballads: The Opinions of Paddy Magee

Like “Paddy’s Lamentation,” “The Opinions of Paddy Magee” expresses the opinion of an Irish immigrant during the American Civil War. Unlike Paddy’s Lamentation, however, this song celebrates the contributions United States citizens made during the Irish Potato Famine and suggests Irishmen repay that debt by fighting to preserve the Union. David Kincaid recorded this song for his album The Irish Volunteer (1998).

I’m Paddy Magee, sir, from Ballinahee, sir,
In an illigant ship I come over the say;
Father Donahoe sent me, my passage he lent me–
Sure, only for that, I’d a walked all the way!
He talked of America’s freedom and glory;
“Begorra,” says I, “that’s the counthry for me!”
So, to ind a long story, I’ve now come before ye,
To give the opinions of Paddy Magee.

Whin Ireland was needing, and famine was feeding,
And thousands were dying for something to ate,
‘Twas America’s daughters that sent over the waters
The ships that were loaded with corn and whate:
And Irishmen sure will forever remember,
The vessels that carried the flag of the free;
And the land that befriended, they’ll die to defend it,
And that’s the opinions of Paddy Magee.

John Bull, ye ould divil,
Ye’d betther keep civil!
Remimber the story of ‘Seventy-six,
Whin Washington glorious he slathered the Tories;
Away from Columbia you then cut your sticks.
And if once again you’re inclined to be meddling,
There’s a city that’s called New Orleans, d’ye see,
Where Hickory Jackson he drove off the Saxon–
Now that’s the opinions of Paddy Magee.

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Civil War Ballads: Death of Jenny Wade

David Matthews (no, not that one) wrote and recorded this song for his 1994 album Shades of Blue & Gray: Songs From The Civil War, released by Delta, and re-released on various alternatively-titled albums over the years. It heavily romanticizes the alleged love between Jennie (Ginnie) Wade, the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, and Corporal Johnston Hastings “Jack” Skelly of the 87th Pennsylvania.

Mary Virginia “Ginnie” Wade

As they said their goodbyes
He looked in her eyes
He said, Jenny, my love, I will return.
She held his hands to her breast
Said even though we’re apart,
I will hold you inside
like the light in my heart.

Always together, for now and forever
Love is the armor that keeps us alive
Always together, for now and forever
I love you, fair Jenny
Fair Jenny, my wife

With the fighting and dying
Raging outside her door
Jenny wondered where John was tonight
And although she could not know
John lay dyin’ alone
In the land of Virginia,
Away from their home.

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Civil War Ballads: Song for the Irish Brigade

Like “Kelly’s Irish Brigade,” David Kincaid recorded this song honoring Irish-American volunteers in the Confederate Army for his album The Irish-American’s Song (2006). The fourth stanza appears to specifically refer to troops who fought under Colonel Edward A. O’Neal in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Oh, not now for songs of a nation’s wrongs,
not the groans of starving labor;
Let the rifle ring and the bullet sing
to the clash of the flashing sabre!
There are Irish ranks on the tented banks
of Columbia’s guarded ocean;
And an iron clank from flank to flank
tells of armed men in motion.

And frank souls there clear true and bare
To all, as the steel beside them,
Can love or hate withe the strength of Fate,
Till the grave of the valiant hide them.
Each seems to be mailed Ard Righ,
whose sword’s avenging glory
Must light the fight and smite for Right,
Like Brian’s in olden story!

With pale affright and panic flight
Shall dastard Yankees base and hollow,
Hear a Celtic race, from their battle place,
Charge to the shout of “Faugh-a-ballaugh!”
By the sould above, by the land we love
Her tears bleeding patience
The sledge is wrought that shall smash to naught
The brazen liar of nations.

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